Garuda Indonesia claims to have broken-even last year, reversing seven years of losses. The carrier's president, Abdulgani, says preliminary, unaudited, figures for 1999 show a 600 million rupiah ($83,000) net profit, after 1998's two trillion rupiah ($275 million) net loss. He says recent restructuring efforts are paying off.

Abdulgani tells Flight International's sister on-line news service Air Transport Intelligence that traffic has picked up. He says he hopes this will continue in line with a general improvement in the macroeconomic situation.

Garuda was among those airlines hardest hit by 1997's Asian economic collapse. It responded by hiring Lufthansa Consulting for operational advice and Deutsche Bank to plan debt restructuring, withholding payments on aircraft debts but meeting interest commitments. Garuda has dropped loss-making routes, cut its fleet from 58 aircraft to 42 and reduced staffing to 10,000 from 13,500.

Abdulgani says the carrier's load factor has since improved, up from 54% in 1998 to 68.4% last year, with on-time performance improving to 88% of services. He claims yields have also improved.

Debt rescheduling is being negotiated by Deutsche Bank and should be finalised by April. A five-year plan presented to creditors last year recommended partial privatisation through an initial public offering in 2003.

Elsewhere in the region Taiwan's EVA Airways saw net profits rise to NT$1.15 billion ($37.5 million) in 1999, a 15-fold increase on 1998's NT$75 million. Operating revenue grew by12% to NT$48.07 billion, with the carrier predicting further growth of 8% this year, although profit growth will be tempered by expected fuel price rises.

On the Chinese mainland, official newspapers say Civil Aviation Administration of China chief Liu Jianfeng has reported a combined airline net profit of 790 million yuan ($95 million) for 1999, after heavy losses in 1998. Combined sales are said to total 79.7 billion yuan, up 10.2% on 1998.

Forecasts for this year envisage that 64 million passengers will be carried, an anticipated rise of 5.6% over last year. Liu rules out the early lifting of a ban on domestic ticket discounting, however. He says a ban on new aircraft orders remains in place.

Source: Flight International